Once upon a time there was a woman who strapped on a magical pair of shoes and instantly lost weight without having to forgo birthday cake or hit the gym. Certain shoe manufacturers would have you believe this tale; in essence you can lose weight simply wearing their products as you go about your daily tasks. These shoes feature a special sole that supposedly makes you work harder with every step so you burn more calories and tone up the muscles in your legs, butt and abs. While you may believe your handsome prince will come, your belief in magical shoes should have faded a while ago.
About Toning Shoes
In the mid-1990s, several athletic shoe manufacturers released specially-designed shoes that were said to help you burn more calories, improve posture and train your muscles. Some manufacturers, reports CNN in 2009, said that the design would create an 11 to 41 percent increase in muscle activity in the legs, glutes and calves. The shoes vary in design -- having either a rounded, padded sole or pods built into the forefoot and heel to create a wobbly feeling when you move. Because you have to work to maintain your equilibrium, you feel like you are working harder just to walk. Manufacturers even encouraged you to wear the shoes during workouts to boost your normal calorie burn.
Shoe manufacturers released studies showing their shoes worked -- but these studies were not widely recognized as legitimate by scientists and fitness experts. The American Council on Exercise performed a study on the shoes that found absolutely no difference in calorie burn or muscle activity when participants wore traditional running shoes or specially-designed, weight-loss shoes when walking on a treadmill at a variety of speeds and inclines. ACE concluded that no evidence exists to support the claims that the shoes will help you lose weight or tone up.
Instead of helping you to lose weight, these shoes may have the potential to sideline you from exercise altogether. The unstable design can result in more turned ankles, falls and other injuries if you are not careful, reported "Consumer Reports" in 2011. Although older people and those with balance disorders are at particular risk, even fit people reported injury to the Consumer Product Safety Division. Wearing these shoes when you run or do other high-intensity activity can also cause injury, especially if you have a gait that needs a particular type of support to prevent strain in your knees, hips or shins.
If buying a new pair of shoes gets you excited to move more, the toning shoes may work a little magic by encouraging you to burn extra calories. But, if you can find the motivation on your own, you can save your cash for a cute workout outfit and get the same results. Ultimately, weight loss comes from reducing your calorie intake and moving more -- not magical gimmicks or quick fixes.
Andrea Cespedes is a professionally trained chef who has focused studies in nutrition. With more than 20 years of experience in the fitness industry, she coaches cycling and running and teaches Pilates and yoga. She is an American Council on Exercise-certified personal trainer, RYT-200 and has degrees from Princeton and Columbia University.